Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 November 2020:
In June 2020, during cross-examination of Government’s Witness, Police Superintendent M.K. Alieu at the 10-Counts Seditious and Defamatory Libel court case brought by the Government of President Julius Maada Bio against popular female opposition politician Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden of the All Peoples Congress party, it emerged clearly that pertinent documents concerning the Elections Petition filed at the Supreme Court by Blyden against President Bio, are now missing from the private residence of Dr. Blyden on allegation of them being taken by the Police.
It can be recalled that in April 2018 within less than 7 days of His Excellency Julius Maada Bio being announced as President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Sylvia Blyden had filed an Elections Petition citing numerous legal grounds on which she asked the Supreme Court to declare the announcement of Julius Maada Bio as President to be null and void. Dr. Blyden strongly asserted in her petition to the Supreme Court that the Elections process and the announcement were unlawful.
In her petition dated April 9th 2018, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden had dragged President Bio himself, the governing SLPP party, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the then Chief Electoral Commissioner Nfa Alie Conteh as the defendants in her Elections Petition.
Blyden’s Petition was described as “solid and watertight” by some lawyers who read through her documents filed.
Although President Bio and other Defendants were served and went on to file in appearances, Lawyers for President Bio and the governing SLPP were totally unable to file any Defense against the serious allegations. Dr. Sylvia Blyden then applied to the Supreme Court Registry to issue a Certificate of Non-Compliance against President Bio himself and against the SLPP as per Rule-92 of the Supreme Court Rules of Sierra Leone.
Although they never filed a Defense, the SLPP and President Bio approached the Supreme Court to make an application in the matter. Dr. Sylvia Blyden had objected to their application citing the Certificate of their Non-Compliance.
In his reply to Dr. Sylvia Blyden’s objection, the lawyer for President Bio and the SLPP, Mr George Banda-Thomas Esq. said that Rule-92 does not preclude his clients from seeking interlocutory relief.
On Monday 16th July 2018, despite the Certificate of Non-Compliance showing non-compliance on the part of President Bio and the SLPP, the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of the President and the SLPP. The Supreme Court then adjourned the matter.
Since July 2018 which is now over two years, the Supreme Court has failed to call up the matter.
Now, the Police are alleged to have broken into Dr. Sylvia Blyden’s house, carting away the entire bundle of Supreme Court materials at a time Blyden was in the custody of President Bio’s government.
During the cross-examination in June 2020, according to Dr. Blyden who was herself personally conducting the cross-examination of Supt. Alieu (she had initially represented herself in the matter), the bundle of materials meant for her Elections Petition at the Supreme Court, had been present in her private study on the day she said she was kidnapped from her house on May 1st 2020 by a team of Police officers.
Dr. Blyden pointed out to the Court during her cross examination that when she was eventually released after several weeks in custody of the Government of President Julius Maada Bio and arrived home, she found the Police had ransacked her home and took away all evidential materials including Sworn Affidavits and Statistical Analysis of flawed Elections data that were all meant to be tendered as evidence whenever the Supreme Court decided to call up the Elections Petition.
In his response under cross-examination, Supt M.K. Alieu denied collecting any Supreme Court materials from the home of Dr. Blyden. At this point, Dr. Blyden asked the Police Superintendent to tell the Court who else had access to her house if not the Police.
“After you ransacked my residence and took away my documents, you welded the doors of my house with electric welding making it impossible for anyone else to enter my house. When I was released from Government custody, I had to get electric welders to melt open the welding you did before anyone could access the house. They re-opened my house and I entered for the first time, only to find my house had not only been ransacked from top to bottom but all the materials for my Supreme Court petition against the Elections of President Bio had been taken away. Clearly Mr. Police Witness, only you and nobody else had access to my house so my missing Supreme Court petition materials are in your police custody. Is that not so?”
In response, the Police Witness confirmed to the Court that he indeed searched the entire house but according to him, “We did not search the house for Supreme Court Petition materials. We did not search the house for Elections business”.
Dr. Blyden also asked the Police Witness to then tell the Court what they were searching her house for behind her back.
The witness could not reply as to what else they went to search for to which Dr. Blyden asserted “All my evidence for the Supreme Court are still in your custody. All the Supreme Court documents are still in Police custody!”
At this point, the learned magistrate asked for the seditious libel matter to proceed in the interest of progress of that particular seditious libel matter since it was not an Elections Petitions case in front of her.
Sylvia Blyden had long been in the black list of Maada Bio. Their touchy relationship started long time ago, beginning from Bio’s first contest for the presidency in 2012, and he failed. During that campaign, Sylvia’s newspaper was fiercely opposed to Bio’s candidacy. As a matter of fact, Sylvia herself, authored series and pieces of writings sharply scrutinizing Bio’s fitness to lead the country, exactly, like she’s done every other politician of note in the game field, but without resorting to any ad hominem attacks.
However, after the brief period, the two were seen, in photos circulated online embraced and hugged each other, portraying themselves in peace. I guess now, the public knows that, it’s either one of them was faking or they both were faking peace. Otherwise, there is no reason for Sylvia’s arrest other than vindictiveness, settling old scores now that Mr. Bio is in power.
Mr. Bio it appears, cannot stand sharp criticisms and Sylvia being who she is, is unrelenting with her viewpoint. She is a sharp shooter and smart media guru who is intellectually polished. Pa Kabba, Solo B, and EBK, were all at some point faced with Sylvia’s penmanship, but they’d never nurtured grudges or allowed her to get the better part of them. They created space to get along, not out of fear of her but, out of tolerance. Nothing that Sylvia had not written or said about the three statesmen. But never did anyone of them, resorted to bullying her because, they have the power to charge her with seditious criminal libel crime which they cannot prove.
The case against Dr Bylden was never about a seditious libel case or anything that comes close. The case was presented by incompetent state prosecutors, supported and aided by something akin to a Gestapo police force, in the name of the Sierra Leone police force, doing the bidding of their leader president Bio. We have to call the case against her for what it is and it remains so to this day, a political witch hunt, dreamt up and manufactured by SLPP party operatives, with the sole guidance, and blessing of their high priest Bio their commander in chief himself. To the extent, when the warrant to search Dr Blyden’s home was being executed, as the nation stood to standstill to watch in horror.
The Sierra Leone police, or the latter day storm troopers, that are trained in the art of delivering shock, carried out their handiwork, all in the name of suppressing an opposition leader, because she considers him to be an illegitimate president because he stole the presidency. Just in case people harbour any doubt, the case was a political witch hunt and when the drama was playing out in front of our own eyes, as the nation held its breath, president Bio came out of his hibernation to deliver a speech on national television, which will go down in the history of Sierra Leone, as the most unpresidential speech delivered by someone occupying the office of the president of Sierra Leone.
In the process, calling on his supporters or the international community that there are indeed terrorists in our midst, that have not accepted his election to the presidency, and they are doing everything to make Sierra Leone ungovernable. A gas-lighting speech, calling on his supporters to stay tuned and be vigilant; there are terrorists everywhere ready to take down the Bio presidency. In reality the speech was full of misleading information and rich in creating divisions amongst Sierra Leoneans. Hence the prison riots in Pademba Road, Lunsar, Tombo and Dr Blyden’s trial, Major Paolo Conteh and others.